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The Top 10 Cities for a Healthy Life

As part of Scientific American's "Cities" special topic issue, we assembled recently compiled lists ranking cities across the U.S. on aspects of green living, pollution, health and technology. Today, we feature lists that rank cities based on their residents' health, Part 2 of 5



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Fittest Cities

  • Minneapolis–St. Paul
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Boston
  • Portland, Ore.
  • Denver
  • San Francisco
  • Hartford, Conn.
  • Seattle
  • Virginia Beach, Va.
  • Sacramento, Calif.

The American Fitness Index, an annual report from the American College of Sports Medicine, ranked America's fittest cities based on both residents' health and cities' accommodations for physical fitness and health. The index is based on how many residents are overweight, how many smoke and how many exercise regularly. The cities themselves also had to perform well in terms of the opportunities they provided for residents to exercise and eat healthily. Dimensions included the size and availability of parks and the availability of farmers' markets. (From USA Today)

Most Fast Food Restaurants

  • Orlando, Fla.
  • Louisville, Ky.
  • Richmond, Va.
  • Miami
  • Las Vegas
  • Tampa, Fla.
  • Baton Rouge
  • Cincinnati
  • Spokane, Wash.
  • Birmingham, Ala.

The Daily Beast compiled this list by calculating the number of fast food restaurants per 100,000 residents. Frequent consumption of fast food has been tied to high rates of obesity and diabetes, so a high rank on the fast food list does not reflect well on a city's overall health. In fact, having ample fast food access detracts from cities' overall performance scores.

Worst Allergies

  • Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Louisville, Ky.
  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Jackson, Miss.
  • Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Birmingham, Ala.
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • Richmond, Va.
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Madison, Wis.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America based this ranking on three factors: pollen count, consumption of allergy medication and the allergist-to-patient ratio. Higher pollen levels can trigger more severe seasonal allergies, whereas the quantity of allergy medications purchased and the number of allergists in the population may indicate how many city residents are seeking medical treatment for their allergies. (Courtesy of Forbes)

Highest Sickness Risk

  • Miami, Fla.
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Manhattan, N.Y.
  • Harlingen, Texas
  • Detroit, Mich.
  • Bronx, N.Y.
  • Dearborn, Mich.
  • Newark, N.J.
  • Hudson, Fla.
  • Johnstown, Pa.

In order to calculate risk for patient sickness, Medicare uses a model called Hierarchical Condition Categories, or HCC for short. HCC provides each city with a score which indicates how much money Medicare spends there. These scores pinpoint the cities (and two boroughs of New York City) with the highest risk of sickness. (From Forbes)

Not all of the above lists were created using conventional statistical or scientific methods, therefore their validity should be suspect. Scientific American gathered the lists from several online sources.

Tomorrow: Part 3—The Cities Ranked by Cleanest and Dirtiest Air
Yesterday: Part 1—The Top 10 Greenest Cities

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